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April 5, 2013 at 9:13 AM   |   Comments

Unemployment ticks down to 7.6 percent

WASHINGTON (UPI) -- The U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 7.6 percent in March on a gain of only 88,000 jobs, the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.

The number of new jobs is the lowest in 10 months and less than half of what economists had predicted. The consensus forecast called for 200,000 new jobs .

The department said the number of unemployed people was little-changed at 11.7 million, but the declining unemployment rate with so few jobs created points out that many more people are giving up on finding a job than there are people finding one.


Argentina flash floods kill 57; 20 missing

BUENOS AIRES, April 5 (UPI) -- Mass flash flooding in Buenos Aires province this week killed at least 57 people, with 20 missing and hundreds more left homeless, Argentine officials said.

The government declared three days of national mourning after what it called "an unprecedented catastrophe."

Hardest hit was the city of La Plata, where officials said 51 people died, the BBC reported Friday.

Six people died in the capital of Buenos Aires, officials said.

Another 20 people were reported missing.

La Plata Mayor Pablo Bruera said the flooding destroyed about 100,000 houses.

Provincial officials said 16 inches of rain fell on La Plata in a 2-hour span Tuesday. The storm dumped nearly 6 inches of rain on Buenos Aires.

Rains had stopped and floodwaters receded but electricity hadn't been fully restored, the BBC said. Two of La Plata's hospitals were affected by the power outage.

The government said it was distributing water, food and clothing at dozens of shelters across the province.


Obama budget includes entitlement changes

WASHINGTON, April 5 (UPI) -- President Obama's budget blueprint will include proposed changes to Social Security and Medicare, and some new tax increases, administration officials said.

The senior officials said Obama's budget, to be presented next week, will include an offer the president made to House Speaker John Boehner in December -- $400 billion in savings to Medicare over 10 years, CNN reported Friday.

"The president's budget to be presented on Wednesday will show how we can invest in the things we need to grow our economy, create jobs and strengthen the middle class while further reducing the deficit in a balanced way," an official said.

Concerning Social Security, Obama is expected to propose a switch to a key Republican request called "chained CPI," an inflation formula supporters say is a more accurate measurement, CNN said. Some critics counter that chained CPI isn't a better way to measure inflation for Social Security recipients because of their healthcare expenses, which rise faster than inflation.

The new budget would garner about $1.8 trillion in savings in 10 years and replace the forced budget cuts, known as the sequester, that took effect on March 1, CNN said.

Also included in Obama's proposal are funds for initiatives he outlined in his State of the Union address, including universal access to pre-kindergarten education, which would be underwritten by an increase in cigarette taxes.

The plan would also close a loophole that allows people to collect disability and unemployment benefits simultaneously, creating a savings for the government, officials said.


52% of Americans say make pot legal

WASHINGTON, April 5 (UPI) -- A slim majority of Americans say marijuana should be legal, with only a third or so saying it leads to harder drugs or is morally wrong, a poll indicates.

Fifty-two percent say pot should be made legal while 45 percent say it should not in the Pew Research Center poll released Thursday.

The percentage of those supporting legalization rose 11 points since 2010. The change is even more dramatic since 1969, when a Gallup poll found just 12 percent said they favored legalizing marijuana use, while 84 percent said they opposed it.

The Pew poll results mirror a Quinnipiac University poll in December that found 51 percent of registered U.S. voters favored marijuana legalization while 44 percent didn't.

The poll found nearly half of Americans -- 48 percent -- say they have tried marijuana, up from 40 percent in 2010.

Of those who say they've used marijuana in the past year, 47 percent say they used it "just for fun," while 30 percent say it was for a medical issue.

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